Spread betting: profit from eurozone chaos

The economic mess that Europe is in means that now could be a great time for spread betters to short the euro. But against what?

Currency tradingis normally about economic fundamentals. The value of, say, the US dollar against the euro is typically a function of interest rates (if US rates slip below eurozone rates, the dollar will weaken) plus key economic data releases a bad US non-farm payrolls number will hit the greenback, as would a GDP slump.

However, every now and again politics throw a spanner in the works.

As the Telegraph's Jeremy Warner notes "when politics and economics collide the economics always end up winning". Yet recently, the euro's hideously flawed economics (one currency for economies as diverse as powerhouse Germany and the effectively bust Greece, Ireland, Portugal and possibly Spain) have played second fiddle to politics.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

A mixture of money printing (quantitative easing) generating cash that has to find a home somewhere, plus a belief in the ability and willingness of the Germans to backstop every state in the eurozone, has prevented a euro meltdown. But for how much longer?

Irish and Portuguese bond yields have soared and are now setting new records as investors demand ever-higher returns for taking the risk of going anywhere near their sovereign paper.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been doing her best to convince markets that she would be committing political suicide to offer a blank cheque to every failed state written on behalf of prudent German taxpayers. As Warner notes, the euro may limp on from here but "there is always the risk that social unrest and/or German disillusionment might tear it apart".

Claim your FREE report from MoneyWeek: An introduction to online trading, with tips & advice including:

  • Spread betting The easy way to geared, tax-free returns
  • Forex trading- How to profit from currency movements

So, forspread betters now could be a great time to short the euro. But against what?

The US seems closer than ever, after the latest mid-term election results, to economic and political paralysis. Meanwhile, the UK is grappling with the impact of public sector job cuts and tumbling house prices.

So perhaps the best bet is a short euro/long yen trade. Sure, the euro is already at a two month low against the yen. But while Japan's problems are well known, not new and largely baked into the price, the Euro's nightmares could be just kicking off.

Tim graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University in 1989 and, after a year of travelling, joined the financial services firm Ernst and Young in 1990, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1994.

He then moved into financial markets training, designing and running a variety of courses at graduate level and beyond for a range of organisations including the Securities and Investment Institute and UBS. He joined MoneyWeek in 2007.